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Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Protecting Your Mental Health During Your Job Search

Does job searching affect our mental health?

Losing your job and being out of work for a significant period of time is classed as both a psychological and financial trauma (Carl Van Horn, PhD, Rutgers university). A large body of research shows unemployment is linked to feelings of anxiety, depression and loss of life-satisfaction. Even when financial strain isn’t a by-product of being made redundant, losing your job can still be detrimental to mental health. Job searching can take it’s toll.

Work provides us with routine, structure, identity, purpose and social interaction. When that is taken away, the effects can be palpable. It is critical that, whilst job searching, you are conscious of protecting your mental health. For those still in employment, support those that are not. 

The all consuming job search

It is far too easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate. If you are not at your laptop, searching and applying for jobs, feeling that you are not doing enough. Feeling as though all hours of the day must be spent on your search.

The reality is this is likely to have a detrimental effect. Your anxiety levels will increase; on days when results are limited, you will feel lower or like the never-ending search is hopeless. The fact is, being tied to your job search every waking moment, won’t make more opportunities appear. Whether you log on for three hours or eight, the amount of jobs you find to apply to are likely to be the same. The only difference will be, is how exhausted and less motivated you will feel.

So what is the answer? How can you take care of yourself, when all you can think about is securing your next job?

A vital element is maintaining structure. Creating a sense of routine provides the stability you lack from not being in work. Get up at a decent time and go about your day with a sense of routine. Try blocking the first two hours to focus on job search and applications. Take a break for chores, have lunch, do a final hour of networking via Linked In, or other platforms. Then spend some time on a hobby or social interaction with a friend or family member (socially distanced of course!). 

Exercise is incredibly helpful. Even if you are not a gym bunny. Doing something physical, ideally first thing in the morning really does get the blood flowing. It also helps you to focus. It will also release endorphins that help fight feelings of depression and anxiety.

What can you control?

When you are searching for employment you may feel uncomfortable with the unknown – when will you find your next job? What will it be? Where will it be? How much will you earn? It is therefore best to focus on what you can control – not what you can’t. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious about a particular thing, consider “is this within my control?” if yes, what can you do about it? Otherwise, let it go and consider what is in your control that you can positively impact instead. 

Seeing constant headlines about more companies going bust and more redundancies being made can impact your mood and feelings about your own job search. Do not let these things affect your mind-set – do not give up. If you find yourself slipping into thinking “there’s no point, I will never find a job”, take a day off the search. Try and think of new ways you can positively impact your search. It is not just about applying to advertised jobs. Spend time networking, look for new connections on LinkedIn. Arrange some virtual coffees, attend on online networking event. Switch it up and bring new life to your search. 

Let people know how you feel

Speak to your partner, friends or family for support. Job searching can be a very lonely place so allow others in. Finding a job search partner can be really motivating. Check in with each other, set goals and help one another stick to them. Celebrate successes and pick each other up on more difficult days. If you are feeling low on a regular basis with very little lift in your mood, don’t be afraid to seek professional support.

Celebrate success!

Not everything about your job search will be negative! Find ways to reflect, recognise and celebrate successes – no matter how small. Keep a visible note of what has gone well. This is really helpful for motivating you when you have more challenging days. Start each day reading through your successes. Even if it’s simply that you made a new, useful connection on LinkedIn – it’s a win! Share the steps forward you are making with those closest to you. Finding a new job can take time, so see each day as being one step closer. 

There are positives of being able to take a little time out too. Use the time you have, outside of the few hours of job search activity each day

  • To reconnect with people you often don’t get time to speak to
  • Return to, or take up, a new hobby,
  • Read the books you never normally find time for,
  • Spend an afternoon pampering yourself.

Job search is one part of what you need to do now. However, the rest of this time is for you to make the best of your time out. Take the break you deserve and invest in your mental health. 

Rebecca Amin is a Career Coach helping parents feeling stuck in their careers, find their paths back to career happiness. Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Read more about dealing with job loss here:

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Gender Pay Gap Mums Returning To Work

The Gender Impact Of Covid-19

How Bad Can It Be?

Women make up 39% of global employment, but account for 54% (so far) of Covid-19 related job losses. This means women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s (McKinsey). Not great news for efforts to close the gender pay gap.

Before Coronavirus, there had been slow progress in closing the gender pay gap, gender parity remained uneven. Without intervention, a real risk exists that slow progress made, could go into reverse. Not only holding back gender equality but the global economy. 

Why Are Women Bearing The Brunt?

Women are disproportionately represented in industries and jobs negatively impacted by Coronavirus (think hospitality, tourism, retail, childcare…). However this only explains one quarter of why women have been more vulnerable to job losses.

Coronavirus, has seen many women assume the lion’s share of the childcare, home schooling and household chores. All whilst trying to hold down the career they worked tirelessly to achieve. This highlights that socially we still live in a world where such responsibilities are assumed to be “women’s work”. This has resulted in a huge volume of women feeling they need to make a choice between their careers and their families. 

The “second shift” as it is often referred to (when the unpaid job of childcare, household chores, cooking, cleaning kick in after actual working hours!) has been increasingly shared by men. But, it is a fact women are still bearing most of the load. Women are being interrupted by household demands at a much higher rate than men, meaning performance at work is more heavily impacted. Childcare is still being cited as one of the number one reasons for women not being able to work (CNBC).

What Does This Mean For Women In The Longer Term?

Whilst many men have been able to lock themselves away to carry out a full days work, many women have not. This could mean an impact on their output. Quite possibly also on their perceived performance and therefore their potential development and promotional opportunities. The stark reality is the impact of Coronavirus on women’s careers may well be felt long after the virus is out of circulation. A widening of the gender pay gap, not closing it as we’ve long fought for. This will then only exacerbate the pay and promotion gaps that were already in existence. 

One good thing to come from this is more focus on and acceptance of the need for flexible working. However even this is not viewed equally. Some say men are encouraged to make use of flex to enhance productivity. Women are expected to adopt flexible working to allow more capacity for their unpaid work.

All of this goes to show equality at work and embracing flexibility for all is not just a nice thing to do. It should be a requirement of all employers. Women can’t be everything to everyone all of the time. Using flexibility to suggest this is possible is not the right solution. We need flex for all. We need to be able to manage personal and professional lives in unison. Not as a way to attempt to be the doer of even more things!

Does This Have To Mean Bad News For The Gender Pay Gap?

There’s no debating times are tough and women really have arguably taken the biggest hit. This doesn’t mean we have to accept this as our fate. We cannot rewind back to the 1950s. 

The Covid crisis has allowed us to redress the balance a little at home. I know in my household, my husband being home and seeing more of the children has had a positive impact on all of us. We are a calmer and happier household. I am less resentful of him having the “luxury” of being out of the house all day. He is less exhausted from hours on a train struggling to find time for exercise and rarely seeing the kids outside of the weekend; the children clearly see him as a more equal care-giver than they did previously.

Many of my clients have found remote working opportunities which historically would have been purely office based – one of the reasons some had left their careers several years back. There is less feeling of needing to prove ourselves before we ask for flex or remote working. It’s a fact of life that we all continue to need this and I have high hopes many organisations will keep this as a permanent feature. 

Having time away from the workplace (whilst hugely stress-inducing for those that have worked throughout), has allowed time for reflection. Time to consider what we truly want from our lives and careers. Investors In People have found one in three of the UK’s population are unhappy in their current role or industry. This in itself is not cause for celebration. But we may have just carried on pushing through without this time of pause and reflection. Ending up in a much more unhappy place. 

The Question Now Is What To Do Next?

Albert Einstein said “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity” and this is something we all must remember. Organisations can take this chance to change how they embrace flexible working, how they manage performance and promotional activity; parents have more opportunity to bring more equality to the unpaid work at home; we all have a chance to truly consider what we want. Now it feels hard, like we just need to get through it. But what can you take from this? Work towards the future you want that this unexpected pause in life has allowed you to see?

Can We Continue To Close The Gender Pay Gap?

We are in uncertain times. Work practices are changing, for the better we hope. So while this pandemic may have set women back, I know that women are fighters and we will bounce back from this. Stronger and better than before.

Find Rebecca on our career coaching page

Categories
Career Change Mums Returning To Work

The Career Passion Killers

Career Passion Killers

We all know children are passion killers. But nobody tells us we may find ourselves robbed of our career passion too. Many mums return to work, ready to get back to being them. Only to find the career they used to love has lost its shine.

The Pre-children Career

We all expect having children will change our lives in many ways. Mainly for the better. But, let’s be honest, there are some things we begrudgingly accept as part and parcel, rather than embrace excitedly. Sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, kissing goodbye to leisurely Sunday mornings and romantic getaways… Let’s just say the excitement of an early night is for different reasons once kids are in the picture!

Taking the tube (or MRT as it is in Singapore where we lived when my first child was born), arriving into the buzz of the city, picking up a coffee, getting into the office early, embracing the chit chat – especially on a Monday hearing about everyone’s weekend antics… The office was where I spent the majority of my waking hours. I was good at what I did. Well respected, high performing – I loved my job and the environment I was in.

Returning to work I expected these feelings of fulfilment, purpose and “professional me” to come flooding back. Of course I expected adjustments – logistics of childcare being the main one – but this was time for me. I worked incredibly hard to gain a promotion just before my first maternity leave. This was to avoid feeling held back because of taking time out (which is a whole other blog post!). I had no doubt in my mind I would be a professional, career-driven mum.

Return to Work

I returned after my first maternity leave to a different job within the same company. It didn’t go well. I returned feeling unsupported, most of my key stakeholders based on the other side of the globe and in all honesty, felt out of my depth. Exhausted with a seven-month old baby waking around four times a night, feeling lost in a role I had really been newly promoted into – albeit seven months before. I fell pregnant again not long after my return. We moved back to the UK and the next few months are a bit of a blur. I knew I wasn’t happy, but put it down to all the changes – new baby, new job, relocation.

Next time would be different. Returning after my second and final maternity leave would be no joke. I said to my husband “this is the next phase of my career, not me faffing about between having babies this time”. I needed to get it right, no messing around.

Where Did My Career Passion Go?

I was excited and ready to go. Then BANG. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the buzz I had before, in fact quite the opposite. Day by day, I felt more and more disengaged. All the passion that I had had in spades, dissipated. I became resentful of those that seemingly still loved their jobs. I was losing motivation outside of work because of how unhappy I had become. You wouldn’t want to be around me. I felt trapped. I wanted this life, I used to love my job… what was wrong with me? I tried really hard to just get on with it. I told myself things like “When the kids are a bit bigger it will feel better again”… but it didn’t. I speak to so many other women who have experienced the same. The jobs they once loved just don’t bring them satisfaction any more.

What I now understand, is that becoming a mum can shift what is important to you. The things that used to engage you, just don’t any more.

Work Values

Fast forward to now and I love my new career. When I hit my career low, I took time out. Realising having a family had, like so many others, shifted things for me. The company and the job were not the issue. Yes I could probably have been better supported upon my return, but the crux of it was I was trying to be comfortable in my old life. A life that didn’t fit any more. My values had totally changed. The things that used to matter most, didn’t any more. My career, whilst important, was not my everything any longer. I discovered, via coaching, my top values are autonomy, recognition and strong relationships. The reality is, whilst these were being met in part, it was not in a way that also fitted with my needs as a parent of young children.

This of course doesn’t happen to every working mum. There are many happy working mothers – which is fantastic! However, when you do lose the passion you once had, it can hit you hard. Leaving you feeling guilty, confused, unhappy and trapped.

In my coaching I talk a lot about career happiness. I strongly believe being happy in your career is critical. Some feel it’s selfish – surely doing the right thing for our family is the most important thing? Being happy in work impacts how happy we are out of work – as a mother, wife and friend and so is not selfish at all. As parents we owe it to our children to show them we are important as individuals and that we can achieve change for the better in our lives.

You may just need a push to go for it. You may have no idea what the alternative is. If that’s the case and you need help working it out, I’m here and happy to chat – here’s my diary.

You Don’t Have To Stay In A Job That Brings You No Joy

My message here is quite simple. If you have lost the love for your career since becoming a mum, you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. You don’t have to stay in a job that brings you no joy and could be damaging to your mental health. You most likely don’t hang out in the same bars and wear the same clothes you did 15 years ago (well not everyday at least!). So why should your career remain stuck in the past?

You may also be interested to read The Mum Guilt In Your Career.

Categories
Career Change Flexible Careers Mums Returning To Work

How To Improve Your Personal Brand On Linkedin

Whether you love or hate social media, it can play a major part in how you’re perceived as a job seeker. Not to mention when you’re striving to make it as a freelancer or an entrepreneur. We live in such times when you can cultivate your own personal brand online even without necessarily owning a small business.

Let’s take a closer look at how to squeeze the most out of LinkedIn, the top player in the realm of business-to-business social media. Become a Linkedin Allstar.

Become a LinkedIn AllStar ★

To increase your chances for being matched with a potential employer/client, you need to become an LinkedIn ‘All-Star’ (i.e. hit the highest level of profile strength). To do this, make sure you fill in every one of those boxes!

Intermediate or beginner levels of profile strength are not enough for maximising your brand on LinkedIn. Especially if you’re looking for a new role.

  • An up-to-date headshot,
  • Your current position
  • Your past few positions
  • Industry,
  • Location
  • Education
  • 5+ skills
  • and a profile summary are among the many prerequisites you need to in order to become a Linkedin AllStar. And then, as LinkedIn itself claims:

“You’re in a league of your own. Your profile is 27x more likely to be found in recruiter searches.”

Think of your summary as a business plan for your brand

The final step before achieving your All-Star status is writing a summary. Think of this as a business plan for your personal brand.

Since it may be the only thing someone glancing through your page may read, an inadequately written or incomplete summary can jeopardise your credibility.

A good summary should be an easily readable at-a-glance view of who you are on a professional level. Arrange information in short paragraphs and bulleted lists. It is much better than forcing your reader to laboriously plough through your achievements and accomplishments in large blocks of text.

Take advantage of the LinkedIn recommendation system

You may have several skill endorsements given to you by your connections as they felt appropriate.

Want to step up your LinkedIn game? Then make good use of the recommendation feature and ask someone (preferably someone for whom you would reciprocate the favour) for a recommendation. This carries more weight than an endorsement for a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s a written statement from one of your connections, not just a one-word attribute. Secondly, it takes more time and effort on the part of the recommender. Finally, it contains specifics about the work you have done. Perhaps it focuses on a time you worked on a project together, or maybe it’s someone who reported into you.

Things can be a bit tricky when you’re brand new to asking for a recommendation. First you need to navigate to the connection’s profile page (not yours). Click the more icon in the top section of the profile and then request a recommendation.

Only once you have given or received a recommendation that isn’t hidden will you be able to request a recommendation from the recommendations section of your profile page.

Next, ensure that you have chosen the correct position you are requesting a recommendation for.

Top tip: To increase your response rate for recommendations. Try giving your connection a rough draft of what you would like them to say. After all, people are crazy busy these days!

Lastly, don’t forget to create a show-stopping headline

Most of the LinkedIn members underestimate the importance of this given space on their profile.

Jessica Ross’ advice is to create a mini-narrative of who you are, including keywords people might search for; a mere job title might not suffice. Her own headline is the following: “Marketer & Copywriter | Helping businesses increase their web traffic through creative storytelling & branding”. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

Of course young people, especially students and graduates, have much less work experience and heady accomplishments to showcase. But they still shouldn’t be afraid to paint a picture of who they are with verve and confidence.

Now you’re on your way to becoming a Linkedin Allstar.

Check out our other blogs on maximising your chances of nailing that job!

Successfully Navigate A Career Change

How To Ace That Interview

Categories
Career Change Flexible Careers Mums Returning To Work Parenting and Work

The Mum Guilt In Your Career

Mum Guilt – A Fact Of Mum Life.

Feeling guilty for feeding them the wrong food, the amount of screen time they have, for being a working mother, for not sending them to enough enrichment activities… the list goes on. 70% of working women having dependent children in the UK, meaning career related mum guilt is a big deal for many of us.

If you are a mum who is passionate about your career, whilst the guilt of course is still a thing, it is definitely dampened by the fact your career makes you feel good – meaning you are a happier, more pleasant person – mum – to be around. But what happens if the passion is gone? If you are unhappy in your career and need to make changes?

As a Career Coach, I speak to many mums who feel guilty for wanting to make such changes. One mum shared “It feels so self-indulgent taking time to work out my career when I should be focussed on what my kids need”. Breaking that down, what she really said was “I’m not worthy of happiness. I should be ok with feeling desperately unhappy a large proportion of the time. My mental health isn’t as important”.

What this statement lacks is the acknowledgment remaining unhappy at work, where we spend up to 80% of our time, would, without a shadow of a doubt, have a negative impact on her over all wellbeing and mental health which would trickle into her relationships with her children, partner and other loved ones.

Being a mum, whilst being the best thing in the world, is also mentally and physically exhausting, sometimes lonely and often thankless. Layer on top a job you dislike or even hate, I can promise will not have a good outcome.

Time To Crush The Mum Guilt

The perception we can only do the job we have always done and so have to suck it up, needs destroying. I and many of my clients have worked through this belief, crushed it, made changes and are a million times happier as a result – and have not suffered significant financial impact (which is often a major concern in career change). Career change does not mean a permanent significant reduction in income nor is it a reason to feel guilty. Fixing something that’s causing immense unhappiness, stress, maybe even resentment or anger, is the best course of action not only for you, but for your family too.

Getting Back To Career Happiness

So where to start? You have made the decision to make a change (well done), but have no clue what to, or how to find the answer.  Going round in circles for some time trying to work this out is not uncommon. You are not alone – this is the exact state my clients come to me in. The bad news? You are going round in circles because you are looking for something that doesn’t exist in your head. The good news? You can do many things to get out of your head to find the answer. 

Here’s how:

Values

The most likely reason you are unhappy is because of a mismatch in your work values. It is critical to understand what’s important to you – a supportive boss? Being challenged? Autonomy? Work-life balance? Working this out is often the biggest indicator of what is wrong with your existing situation – what it is not giving you. Your career move must fit with your top values. If you struggle to figure this out, this test will help: https://www.123test.com/work-values-test/

Skills

Consider the numerous skills you have (developed both inside and outside of work). Which you want to carry on using? Think about the skills you want to use more of or develop further. Again, this will give indicators of what is going wrong in your current role – are you using skills you don’t enjoy using any more? 

Stop Looking For The Solution. 

Bare with me, I haven’t gone crazy! Constantly looking for the answer is what is keeping you stuck. It’s like trying to put the roof on a house with no walls. You need to figure out what the walls are made of first – what will bring you happiness? As above,

  • What are your work values and skills you want to use?
  • Consider your interests?
  • Figure out your non-negotiables?
  • What do you need to feel satisfied at work?

Once you are clearer on these areas you can start thinking of solutions.

Get New Input. 

When the answer does not lie in your own head, you need new input. Take responsibility to find this. Talk to new people, attend workshops, engage with someone with a different, but interesting, job. Google research is great, but there’s a high risk of getting sucked into a black hole, watching cat videos before you know it! Nothing is better than actual human connection for new input to really make a positive impact. Expanding input will open you up to new ideas you didn’t even know existed!

No Filter!

When considering options look out for “I would love to… but”. Thinking of something and moving to all the reasons it won’t work, you filter, validate and decide in one go, based on assumption. Instead write all possible ideas down – crazy and sensible. Research those you are most drawn to. Once you research and understand what that career change would entail then, and only then, you rule it in or out.

This way you know why you want to do a something and look for ways to make it happen – rather than reasons it can’t. Some options you will decide are not viable, but deciding based on fact – not assumption – is the key. 

Taking Control

Taking control of your career when you are stuck and unhappy is nothing to feel guilty or self indulgent about. The cost of ignoring it will be way higher. You deserve more – and so do your children. You are most certainly worth it! Time to crush the mum guilt.

This process is not easy or quick, but definitely possible. If you need help working it all out, I’m here and happy to chat – here’s my diary.

Rebecca can be found via her website www.rebeccaamincoaching.co.uk; Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

If you are looking for other blogs on career changes try this one: Successfully Navigate A Career change.

Categories
Mums Returning To Work

Killer Mum Skills

To Enhance Your CV

As a mum we learn and perfect a whole host of highly employable skills and talents. But we often overlook these let alone use them to build self confidence, enhance our CV and market our skills.

We can often feel our skills are outdated, our employability is affected and there are career gaps to explain.

There are so many different skills you will have gained whilst raising a young family and these are highly sought after by employers. Here are some of our top killer mum skills:

Time Management

No one knows the value of time better than mums juggling a busy household. You are an expert at juggling multiple tasks and allocating slots in the day and week to get everything done. Meeting deadlines – kids have to be fed on time (avoiding hangry children!), kids at school have to be picked up on time, they can’t be forgotten or simply left outside to wait. You will have mastered how to squeeze as much into a day as possible. These are invaluable skills that enhance your productivity and efficiency at work.

Communication

You will have learned to listen, persuade and counsel your children. Mastering the art of staying calm during tantrums and having to communicate clearly. You also help your children to express themselves and communicate effectively. Communication is a key component in any role and such, these skills will be highly employable.

Problem solving

Every business needs problem solvers. As a mum you will have been faced with a whole host of problems you never knew existed!

  • Getting your newborn to recognise day and night;
  • How to manage temper tantrums when out and about;
  • How to get your child to share toys on a playdate…the list of problems we encounter as mums is widespread and endless.
  • You also learn how to help your child to problem solve for themselves. 

Event management

Your event management skills will have been showcast from party planning to playdates. You will probably have got adept at managing a busy social calendar for your children (they can have busier schedules than the parents!). You will have had to find a venue, create an attendance list, plan entertainment and food and pull off the event. Such events will also demonstrate your ability to plan, organise and manage people.

Creativity

The recent lockdown experience was a particularly good time to work on those creativity skills. You come up with ideas to keep kids occupied and busy in the home. Maybe you had to take on the role of teacher and therefore come up with creative ways to homeschool and teach parts of the national curriculum. Whatever the age of your children you will have honed those creative skills in some shape or form whilst finding ways to entertain and develop those key childhood milestones.

Build Your Confidence

There are so many more skills we perfect as mums and the above is just a starting point. Take some time to think about your killer mum skills, then use these to refresh and enhance your CV. This will help build confidence and increase your chances of getting your CV into the ‘yes’ pile and selected for an interview.

The Essential CV Makeover For Mums

If you are struggling to update your CV, you are not alone. That’s why we’ve launched our new course – The Essential CV Makeover for Mums.

We will guide you step-by-step through the process of writing your CV. And we’ll do this in five manageable chunks so that you can fit it around all your other commitments.

Book by 19th July to benefit from our Early Bird price of £49. You can find out more here: Essential CV Makeover For Mums.

Want to read more posts about making the most of your CV?

CV Writing after a career break.

How To Ace That Interview.

Categories
Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Meet Rebecca Amin

Rebecca Amin, Our New Flexible Working Warrior on MummyJobs.

One in three working mums suffer with unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress caused by managing a job and looking after children, according to a survey by Smart TMS – a mental health clinic.

This is a statistic I and, I am sure, many other mothers can relate to. Sadly this is often a silent struggle – many fearing if we voice our feelings we may be judged as a bad employee or bad mum. We thought we could have it all – the career and the family, is this how it is meant to feel? Should we just suck it up and get on with it?

I am Rebecca Amin, a Career Coach and I used to think that’s just how it would have to be. Thankfully, my mind-set has now changed, but it wasn’t easy.

Returning To Work After Maternity Leave.

In February 2016, I returned to work after my second maternity leave with all the thoughts so many of us have, “it’s my time to get back to my career, to being me again!” I returned, full of excitement, ready for phase two of my career – the post-children part. With some trepidation – I had returned from one maternity leave two years before and struggled. I had fallen pregnant quite soon after my return, so put my lack of passion for my work down to pregnancy and first time mum stuff – getting to grips with nursery, new routine etc. This time it was for real. Time to make my mark again, get back to the heady days of high performance, recognition, loving my career again…

BANG. It didn’t happen. At first I gave myself time to settle back in, gave myself allowances. However, each day felt harder and harder to find motivation for my work and all passion for what I did had gone. The fact was the environment and work I was doing had lost its shine. I didn’t care enough. I still did what was needed, because I had to, not because I got any enjoyment from my work.

This is not what I expected. I had always enjoyed my job. At first I felt confused – what was wrong with me? Was I suffering from delayed post-natal depression? Why was everyone else happy? Then guilt – why is this not enough for me? I should feel lucky to have a good job, healthy kids, a nice home… Next resent and anger. Why should I do this? Why can’t I do something that gives me some satisfaction?

Looking back, this looks like the stages of grief and I now believe, in some way, I was grieving my working life pre-children. 

My Career No Longer Suited Me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mum. I wanted to have a career, but I couldn’t carry on like this. As I worked through what was happening it became clear the career I was in was simply the wrong fit for me at this point in my life. I wanted to do something more worthwhile and meaningful to me. I needed to make a change – but what and how?

Despite the creeping sense of greyness blanketing my life, I needed my salary and an alternative job that I felt excited about, at the right level was hard to find. As a result, I wound up feeling completely stuck.

The Need To Make Positive Career Choices.

For a time, I told myself sticking with a job I was unhappy in, was what it meant to be grown-up. It was the realistic and responsible choice… But this approach was not sustainable if I wanted to protect my mental health and be happy at work, and therefore in life, again. I went round in circles and eventually bit the bullet and made changes. I took a four month sabbatical. During which I spent time reflecting on what would make me happy. I thought about what I really needed in my working life and career and trained as an accredited Career Coach.

I have since found these thoughts and feelings of course were not exclusive to me. It made me feel shocked and saddened to realise just how prevalent this unhappiness, anxiety and stress is, in working mums. This is why I dedicate my coaching to supporting mums in the same situation.

Of course not all stressed mums need a total career change. Some do, but some simply need tweaks – more flexibility. Not to be made to feel guilty for going to Sports Day, not smiling on the outside apparently holding it all together, but regularly hiding in the bathroom crying on the days it all feels too much.

Mental Health At Work.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 15% of working adults experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time work are twice as likely to suffer than men (19.8% vs. 10.9%). People Management have reported more than a third who have flexible working experience an improvement in their mental health as a direct result. 

The Future Of Work.

I love supporting my clients to take control and figure out changes to get back to being happy in their careers again. What I would love even more would be if more felt flexibility at work was an option. Not something gifted to you once you have proved yourself after years of service. And I don’t mean the honour of being allowed to work from home on a Friday, but true flexibility that impacts on life for the better. Seeing so many leave jobs with flexibility at the crux of their struggles is outrageous. The talent lost. The confidence shattered of individuals feeling like they are failing. The belief they can’t continue professional careers if they have children and need flexibility. 

The optimist in me feels the tide may be turning. I for one truly hope we may be at a pivotal point for flexible working. 

If you enjoyed this post share across your social platforms. Also tune in next month to read more on children being career passion killers…

If you would like to find out more about my Career Coaching, please visit my website Rebecca Amin Coaching.

Or connect with me on my Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Rebecca Amin
Rebecca Amin

Categories
Flexible Careers Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Successfully Navigate Career Change

As we reach different points in our lives, our priorities change. As parents, many of us are looking for flexible work in order to achieve work/life balance and this may mean making a career change.

Most people find the idea of change unsettling and worrying, but if you do the groundwork you can face it with confidence.

 

A Guest Post from The Coaching Partners

STARTING POINT

Use Your Expertise

Over your career to date, you will have built up a whole host of skills, knowledge and expertise. A career change does not necessarily mean you need to start over. Use the expertise you have to take elements forward as you adapt, pivot and flex towards a new career path.

Find Something That You Love

Spend some time thinking about which elements of your past roles you enjoyed and were passionate about. We all have parts of our jobs we dislike or even dread. Which components raised your energy levels? Focus on these energy-boosting elements when making a career change.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Use your network to explore new opportunities. Cast a wide net to find people in the right circles. If you have taken time out of your career, perhaps to raise a family, you may have developed new social networks. Who have you met at your children’s nursery, school or activity classes? Are you part of any hobby/interest groups where you meet different people?

Think about how you can leverage your network. The more conversations you can have with people where you talk about your career change, the more ideas, leads and connections you will build up to help you.

PLANNING

Think about your long term career aspirations

Think about your long term career aspirations, not just short term goals. Taking some time out to really reflect on what you want to do with your career long term will lead to greater career fulfilment.

Future-Proofing

Future-proofing your career is simply taking steps to prepare yourself for a changing work environment. We are already seeing workplace changes in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic where enforced remote working and a greater reliance on technology is prevalent. Rather than waiting for changes to happen and being reactive, future-proofing involves a proactive approach where you ensure your skills and expertise are highly marketable in the job market.

Career Change Path

How will you make your career change? Having a plan can help you to navigate the change successfully. Will you resign from your existing role and dedicate yourself entirely to this career change or will you move towards your career change in conjunction with an existing role?

You could think about building a side hustle, which is a great way to test your new career path or business idea. Once you have developed and tested your side hustle, you could make this your main occupation.

BRIDGE THE GAPS

Demonstrate Your Transferable Skills

You need to be able to demonstrate transferable skills. Do you have a portfolio or blog to demonstrate your relevant work? Update your personal branding including your CV and LinkedIn profiles. Adapt these to your new chosen career path and highlight your transferable skills.

Close Gaps in Your Skillset

There may be gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. How can you take the next steps and get real experience in your new chosen career? Can you pick up freelance work? Could you volunteer?

 


You need to close the gaps in your skillset and prove that you have the capability to do the work you want to do. Can you take online classes or undertake relevant professional certifications?

Career change requires careful planning and consideration to be successful. It can be a welcome opportunity to gain new experiences, find flexible work and to achieve work-life balance.

The Coaching Partners offer a range of services that will help you successfully navigate a career change. If you’d like to learn more about them then see what they have to offer here – The Coaching Partners

Look out for some more fabulous blogs on career changes here on MummyJobs.co.uk

We also have some great stories on our sister site FindYourFlex.co.uk like this one from Leila Singh.

 

Categories
Mums Returning To Work

Why At The FindYourFlex Group We Don’t Support MLM’s

Our Stand Against (MLMs) Multi Level Marketing Schemes.

One of the last times I saw my university lecturer we were talking about what my plans were for the future. I outlined a strict timetable that included having a part time job, writing at the weekends and evenings, and somehow having a couple of kids who would slot neatly into this lifestyle. My lecturer tried to gently point out that this may be a hard schedule to stick to, at which I bristled. In my head, I told him that he was wrong, that I would manage. It wouldn’t be too much. I would it make it work.

After two babies, one broken-down house that we bought just before the housing crash and a now ex-partner with mental health problems; I realised what my lecturer was trying to tell me. Children are hard work. Life often gets much harder after having them. Don’t get me wrong, some people can manage to do everything they want, but I believe a great deal more struggle. Especially if you have added pressures: you are a single parent, you care for someone else with mental or physical difficulties, or you have your own ill health to cope with. And especially if you are also looking for a job.

This still is mostly true for women, as working mothers tend to end up being overworked and underpaid, often leaving full-time roles and taking on part-time work to cope with all of the roles they have to fulfil. On top of this, part-time, home-based or flexible work has an image problem it being seen as the ‘soft option’ and can make some feel like they have lost their status at work.

What does this have to do with MLMs?

Since starting work with The FindYourFlex Group (which own MummyJobs.co.uk), I joined a LOT of Facebook groups to post our jobs into. I quickly became aware of the amount of advertising of MLM ‘opportunities’ out there. Nearly every group for flexible/home-based work, have posts of people trying to recruit members to ‘join their team’. Posts asking people to work for ‘this amazing company, work when YOU want and make ££££!!!’. Many adverts had pictures of people working happily with a cup of tea, in a beautiful house, or with their family.

Since I was told that we didn’t allow MLM’s; I largely ignored the adverts. But researching the subject I’ve realised just how just how unscrupulous these companies can be to work for.

Not So Empowering Adverts

The vast majority of the adverts I have seen are posted by women, for women

and they language is aimed toward the ’empowering’. A few example from the groups: ‘Be your own boss!’ ‘Build your confidence and make new friends!’ ‘I can show you HOW and give you the TOOLS … . All you have to do is show up and do the ACTION’. My personal favourite: ‘All you need is WiFi and a dream!’

While it is tempting to dismiss these phoney adverts as ridiculous, as a new mum they can for some, feel like a lifeline. One study by video parenting site ChannelMum.com found that 90% of mums feel lonely after giving birth and 80% want more mum friends. This certainly was my experience. Add in the fact that mothers on lower incomes have less flexible work choices, and taking on longer hours will often mean childcare costs they can’t meet, you can see that a home-based job that seems easy, can be very attractive.

Adverts like this, and the women posting them, are pushing the right buttons. They are aimed at people desperate to make money. They promote their ads in a way that will mean parents can balance children and work. However, it sounds too good to be true, because it is. MLM’s are not truly supportive of family life, they exist to make money of the people who sign up.

Self Employed Vs Employed

Let me give you an example: a friend of mine (let’s call her Hannah) worked for Anne Summers. I say ‘worked for’, but that is not strictly speaking true. MLMs work on the basis that people who sell for them are self-employed, and therefore not entitled to basic employment rights, like sick or holiday pay, or indeed a minimum wage. Anyway, Hannah became a ‘Party Organiser’ and quickly worked her way up to become a ‘Unit Organiser’. Not by selling, but by recruiting other people to sell under her.

MLMs work on the structure of ‘the more people you recruit under you and the more they recruit, the more it adds to your sales’. Recruits are known as ‘downline distributors’, as you take a percentage from their orders from the MLM. So you get paid for other people’s hard work. At first it went OK, the parties were fun, especially if you held one in a pub. Hannah tells me that at one such party she sold around £800 worth of stock. She even went part-time from her other job to concentrate on the parties. But these good days did not outweigh the bad. She admits too often having a drink after working, which would cut into her profits. At many parties, people were late, or not many (if any) turned up.

“My heart would sink if I turned up to someone’s house [to run a party], and only three people were there”, she says.

She told me that she went to a monthly company event in which her achievements were recognised. But, when she (rightly) said her sales targets were down, to the organisers under her, she was meet by some frosty stares from the other, more senior ‘Unit Organisers’. In this meeting, the organisers were not reimbursed for expenses — they had to cover their own travel and food/drink costs. MLMs offer no real work benefits, no expenses for work related costs, no sick or maternity pay, and no real flexibility. To make money you must be working all the time.

“Did you make any money?” I asked. “No, but you got badges! That kept you going”, she replied.

Turns out that she would get a badge if she hit a target. Badges such as a Love Potion badge, or a Rampant Rabbit badge, which moved her up the ladder. Many MLMs have some form of bogus ‘progression’ system, and have different ways of marking it.

Hitting Targets

However, it doesn’t mean by hitting the targets you would see any profit. Hannah certainly didn’t. She had to pay off the cost of her starter kit (£500 in 2003). The money she gave towards that, which was roughly £35 a month, would be counted towards her target. So, it would look like she was selling more that she was. Also a lot of her money was going on new stock, so she could keep up with orders. So really, she was just buying a lot. And not selling much.

From Hannah’s experience and reading up on these organisations, it seems that their rules on how they operate are often complicated. They are seemingly never fully understood. Hannah herself didn’t realise that when she left the company, her starter kit would have to be sent back. Anything missing from the kit had to be replaced from her own pocket (including order forms). She had told the people she recruited under her the contrary.

“I didn’t understand”, she tells me. “My Unit Organiser never told me. Either she didn’t know herself, or she deliberately decided to not tell me.”

Hannah finally left after having two miscarriages close together which she, naturally had to take time off for. Her parties were still covered by other organisers. But even though she set them up, she didn’t see any profit from them. After her second miscarriage, her Area Manager was so unsympathetic and angry with her for missing her sales. She decided to leave.

The appeal of joining MLMs is they seem completely reasonable to begin with — why not sell a few nice things on the side, in your own time? But the hard truth is that the time you put into it to make it work can be far more than the rewards you reap.

Add children into the mix, with all their emotional and practical needs, it soon becomes very hard indeed. You can make the analogy between this and dieting; how many times have you told yourself that you’ll only drink lemon water for breakfast for a whole month, only to steal the kids’ toast on Day Two? This isn’t to put down people’s hard-earned achievements with actual businesses or indeed losing weight, but that MLM systems are largely totally unrealistic. Wouldn’t you rather you made money for the work you have done yourself and not off the back of other desperate people, that ultimately only really pays for a few fat cats right at the top of the upline?

This Is Our Stand Against MLMs

Here at Find Your Flex, we want to change the status quo and help people have a better balance to their lives, by asking for flexible work and to push for employers to offer it. We believe that MLMs merely exploit desperate people, rather than offer a better alternative. People who work part-time are efficient, loyal and hard working — they are a great underused resource.

Why not set up your own business or get a PAYE job — there are flexible jobs and flexible working recruitment agencies out there! Our aim is to bring them all in to one place right here on our jobs board.

MLMs target the most vulnerable. These people deserve a chance to have a good job with basic rights. Just because they don’t work eight hours a day in an office doesn’t mean they should be penalised when trying to make some money. They are already working hard. This is our stand against MLMs.

Author: Kizzy Hamilton, Marketing Team at The Find Your Flex Group.

Read More: 9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Join A MLMs

Categories
Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

The Great Baby And Career Balancing Act

How I Balanced A Baby And A Career

Guest Post By Lyndsey Shankland

As a businesswoman, my whole adult life was dedicated to my career in recruitment. I loved it! Balancing a baby and a career hadn’t been on the agenda. My true passion was my career, my reason for being, and everything else could wait.

But that all changed when I turned 38. Cupid’s arrow struck. Now generally speaking, I’m not someone to jump straight in, but this was it. By the age of 39 I was married. I became a new mother just three weeks after my 41st birthday.

Yep, I might be a slow starter when it comes to having a family of my own. However, when it’s right, it’s right!

I had real problems getting my head around the concept of taking six months off work. I mean, who was going to lead my projects, partner with my stakeholders, source new candidates and help keep those business wheels turning? How would I balance a baby and a career?

Even with years of experience working in American businesses globally and in regional roles, with responsibility for leading teams across EMEA, APAC and AMER I worried.  Would I be cast aside now I was a mother with other priorities was never far from my mind?

With so many women finding themselves ‘surplus to requirements’ and facing redundancy after returning from maternity leave, the days with my newborn were tainted with worry.

And sadly, my worries weren’t unfounded

The Return To Work… Or Not!

I enjoyed six blissful months of maternity leave with my little Oliver. Then on my first day back at work I was hit with a huge bombshell. My role was being relocated to the US. There was absolutely no way I could move.

Not only did I have my husband and son to think about, but my mum has young on-set vascular dementia and needs me more now than ever.

I went through a storm of emotions as I struggled to come to terms with the ‘loss’ of the job I loved. I’d always been the stronger partner in a financial sense. So worries about the mortgage, bills, other financial commitments, an unwell mother and a new baby caused a lot of anxiety.

How was I going to set myself apart from other job seekers in an already saturated market? For anyone who’s ever had an insight into the recruitment industry, you’ll know that recruiters are like gremlins – put a little water on us and we multiply!

How was I going to compete with these bright young things that didn’t have the commitments and family priorities I did?

Taking Back Control

So, I had two choices. Either put on my dressing gown and drown my sorrows in a family-sized tub of Ben and Jerry’s, or get proactive.

I took the latter option. I took control of the situation with the life-changing decision to start my own business.

After all, I had 18 years experience as an in-house head of talent acquisition. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of the recruitment world first hand. So why should I end up on the career scrap heap just because I had a child?

I considered my goals and formed my plan of action. I wanted to be a good recruiter of course, but I also wanted to be a good wife, daughter and mother.

Flexibility Is Key

For my plan to succeed, flexibility was central. Before I decided to start my own business, I was headhunted numerous times. I found however that employers were put off by my insistence on regular home office days and my need to balance a baby with a career.

So, I started out on my own with a business model of working with only a select number of clients in engineering and pharmaceutical markets, taking on just 2 or 3 at a time.

This allowed me to offer a higher quality, fully tailored recruitment service to both the global businesses I support and the talent I headhunt.

Clients And Cuddles

Fast forward to October this year. I’m working on four roles for two different clients. This doesn’t just ‘bring home the bacon’ as you’d say, it means I can fit in a cuddle with Oliver and hubby Iain. I can do so without feeling a crippling sense of guilt that I’m letting anyone down.

We have lunch together, and then I crack back on with the international calls. We’ve flown to a few places together already too: Dubai, Milan, Florence, Hamburg. We are due to visit the US in a couple of weeks. It’s living the dream of being able to keep the career I’ve worked hard to achieve AND feel like I can be a good wife and Mum too!

And it’s on MY terms

It’s still early days yet. Some days the struggle is real, trying to balance a baby and a career – but it’s on our terms as a family.

I’m still feeling really positive about the future.

I can’t say too much right now, but I’ll be taking on a new role towards the end of the year. This is with a business which values my skills. Skills that haven’t changed just because I’m a mother. They appreciate that I need some family time too. I’ve finally found a position that allows me to do the job I love and carry on with the most important roles of all – a mummy, a wife and a daughter.

Mum and baby birthday celebrations

My Advice To You

If you think you’re in the worst situation possible and about to lose your job, I’m living proof that you can regain control of your life. You can continue to follow your dreams without compromising on integrity or family commitments.

I still have to work very hard to keep all the plates spinning, but I’m enjoying it! My skills are still relevant and in demand even though I have a family. I am balancing a baby and a career!

And as a recruitment expert and mum, I should know!

Blog Post by Lyndsey Shankland

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